Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but most cases are preventable with routine colonoscopies. According to AMSURG, a leading national healthcare group, more than 200,000 colonoscopies were missed in 2020. Therefore, it is essential to schedule a colon cancer screening for early detection and treatment.
March is Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month, a time to learn how to prevent and detect colorectal cancer. Anyone can develop colon cancer, regardless of age, gender or fitness level.
Begin Colon Cancer Screenings at Age 45
Medical consensus is building for Americans 45 and older to receive routine screenings for CRC. The American Cancer Society lowered the recommended screening age from 50 to 45 in 2018. In 2020, the United States Preventive Services Task Force shared a draft recommendation to lower the screening age to 45.
Because of this new guidance, all individuals who are at average risk should begin routine screenings at age 45 and not delay essential screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When detected early, CRC can be easier to treat, and patients often have better outcomes. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 150,000 people will be diagnosed with CRC in 2021. Although the rate of people diagnosed with CRC has dropped in recent years, incidence among young adults is increasing. According to AMSURG data, pre-cancerous polyps have been found in one out of every four patients who have undergone a colonoscopy since 2019.
Every Month Counts with Colon Cancer
“Every year, every month counts with CRC,” said Brenda Thompson Green, AMSURG employee. “Four years ago, I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 46. Had I been encouraged to get screened a year earlier, there’s the potential that I could have had a much more positive outcome and not required such intense treatment. I am alive today because I listened to my body, sought the appropriate care and received a screening colonoscopy at the suggestion of my physician. Until the screening age is more broadly accepted, I cannot stress how important it is for people to know their family history, understand the symptoms and not delay care.”
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a comprehensive procedure in which physicians can detect and remove polyps before they become cancerous. Colonoscopies are instrumental in helping people maintain their health and quality of life.
CRC does not disappear during a pandemic. In 2021, more than 200,000 patients missed their colonoscopies, and based on statistical expectations, approximately 900 of these people would have CRC.
It is essential to be aware of the symptoms of colon cancer: a persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, persistent abdominal discomfort like cramps, gas or pain, or a feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.
Schedule Your Colonoscopy at a GI Center
The best decision you can make this month is to educate yourself and your family about the importance of a quality colonoscopy. Our surgery centers and physicians are ready to serve you with compassionate, quality care. Call today to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. One simple procedure could save your life.